So, you think you’d like to be a pet photographer?

I thought I would keep the dog theme going in today’s post and share with you my behind the scenes experiences in photographing dogs. I know most of you are thinking, “What a fun job! How hard can it be to get a few shots of cute, lovable puppies.” Well read on…

Our assignment seemed simple enough – photograph four of the cutest pitbull mix puppies we had ever seen.

I was under the extreme delusion that I was actually going to get all of them in one shot. You know the one I’m referring to – the perennial favorite of holiday calendars, where a group of downy puppies is cuddled up next to each other with giant warm eyes looking into the camera lovingly, maybe they would even doze off in an adorable puppy pile eliciting a collective “Awww” from viewers everywhere. What actually happened was an attack on our equipment, a defilement of the backdrop and a near need for stitches on Larry’s hand.

Not only did these little rascals poop and pee all over the backdrop, one of
them decided he was going to rappel himself up the back of it. Keep in mind
that this is simply a piece of cloth suspended between two light stands. He
actually managed to get half way up it before the whole thing nearly came
crashing down. Thankfully everything was anchored down with heavy sandbags.

While this was going on, his brother set his sights on our reflector.
Apparently foam core is like a steak dinner to a puppy because he was going
to town taking huge chunks out of it with his tiny and super sharp teeth.

We spent nearly two hours just trying to corral them into something vaguely
resembling a composition. When we weren’t stepping in their poop, we were
guarding our faces and crotches from their scratches and bites. I’m still
not sure how this happened, but do you see the one who appears to be just hanging out on my lap? He somehow chewed a hole through the zipper on my fly.

Larry and I left there stunned, filthy and a little bloody. If you had seen us
stumble back to our car, you would have thought we had just done a tour of duty in Fallujah.

Now I will admit, these little guys were extra rambunctious, but be warned…working with animals takes a lot of patience and steely determination. Oh yeah, a Hazmat suit might be a good thing to bring along too!

The Big Reveal…Buried Bone Photo is here!

Isabel Lawrence Photographers is branching out! We are so proud to announce the launch of Buried Bone Photo, our pet photography studio. This is something Larry and I have wanted to do for so long and after many months of photographing lots of adorable dogs and collaborating with our amazing web designer, Joel Adamich of Private Revolution, we would like to share with you our gorgeous website that showcases pet photography that is artful and very much in keeping with our elegant, classic aesthetic.

As is the case with our human subjects, our philosophy is to bring to light all that is unique and special about your dog and a pre-shoot consultation will ensure that your baby’s portrait will fit in perfectly with your home’s décor.

Be sure to check out all of the great “Wag Swag” in our Boutique too. In addition to immortalizing your adorable pup in a wall portrait you can also show him off on our line of custom jewelry and greeting cards. We will be adding lots more great swag in the weeks to come so check in often. Speaking of swag, become a fan of our Facebook page by clicking on the “Like” button to be entered in a drawing to win any item in the Boutique retailing up to $50. Keep in mind, even though what we are featuring on the site is pet friendly, you can of course feature photos of your human family if you prefer. This is a great opportunity to have a custom gift made just in time for the holidays. I will be drawing the name of the winner on Sunday October 24th so be sure to “Like” us before then.

Bahama Birds

Larry made this photograph on a Christmas vacation to the Bahamas. We actually went there to meet my family and it was Larry’s first holiday with the Gomes gang. I had just recently started experimenting with the plastic camera and I remember that Larry wasn’t yet convinced of what the point was. I let him borrow mine one afternoon as we walked along the beach. Upon our return to L.A. of course the first item on our “to do” list is to get the film in for processing (that anticipation is one of my favorite parts of coming back from a trip, second only to actually seeing the proof sheets.) Well, here this was on “his roll” and he has never doubted the plastic camera since.

The Closet Project, figure 13


“…where does one person end and another person begin?”
~Iris Murdoch

Botanik, Summerland

Yeah! It’s Wednesday and I’m so excited to divulge another one of my Happy Places, Botanik in Summerland.

Summerland is a tiny charming beach town nestled between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. Its main street is home to a variety of shops and restaurants – my favorite being of course, Botanik.

What makes this shop so special? For one thing, the décor changes seasonally. The day I was there photographing this piece, it was an oasis of eastern tranquility. I was especially taken by the serene Buddhas peaking out from forests of potted orchids. A soothing green palette underscored the various tableaux. The next time I pop in, the entire place will look entirely different – maybe it will be decked out in autumnal finery or it will resemble the French countryside. Walking in here is always a delight and a surprise. I wouldn’t dream of setting a holiday dinner table without picking up a set of faux bois vases or a trio of potted succulents. Which brings me to another fantastic aspect of Botanik – the garden section.

Erin the owner has a wonderful selection of terracotta pots and cast iron urns. They are the perfect vessels to showcase the many different types of succulents she carries. I adore these types of plants but sadly, don’t always know how to display them. Luckily there are lots of artfully potted plants sitting in the perfect containers ready to go.

If you’re not already familiar with this gem of a shop, you must visit soon. I promise, you will be as smitten as I am.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am to 5:30pm Sunday 11am – 4pm
Phone: (805) 5653831

What’s so special about toy cameras?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know about our love of alternative cameras. Larry and I wouldn’t think of taking a trip without an arsenal of plastic and pinhole cameras. We used these cameras on our first wedding 14 years ago and often joke that of all the expensive, state of the art equipment we use to photograph an event, we would rather lose all of the fancy schmancy stuff rather than our taped up, scuffed up toy cameras. The reason being that each plastic camera has it’s own quirky personality. One might have a sharper lens or another might have the perfect amount of vignetting. To find the perfect combination is sort of like finding gold. That and the fact that all of the moving parts are plastic and thus susceptible to breaking make these cameras extremely valuable to us.

So what exactly is a plastic or toy camera? Basically, it’s a point and shooter that takes medium format film. The negatives are square and about 2 ¼” x 2 ¼.” There are many brands out there but the most popular are the Holga and Diana. Everything is made of plastic, including the lens. There are no shutter speeds or f/stops to adjust. The only way to control how much light hits the film plane is by twisting the lens or flicking a little lever so that it clicks on a shady or sunny icon. This supposedly allows for more or less light getting in but I’m a bit dubious about the voracity of this feature. Still, the little sun and cloud graphic are awfully cute looking and it does impart the photographer with a certain sense of control over the exposure even if it is a false one. Which brings me to the most fun aspect of photographing with a plastic camera…the complete lack of technical control.

To shoot with a plastic camera is to leave yourself open to chance and whimsy. You have to give into its quirks and accept that sometimes the results will be magical and sometimes, not so much. You also, (insert gasp here) can’t instantly look at a screen on the back of the camera and make adjustments. Belief in yourself and your little plastic cohort are a necessity. Conversely, you can’t take yourself or your craft too seriously – remember the point is to be free and have fun!

If you’d like to give these types of cameras a try, and trust me, you will fall utterly in love if you do, they can be purchased at Urban Outfitters and the Lomography Store. Old, originals can also be found on eBay, but be warned that sometimes you can get a lemon that doesn’t wind the film correctly or leaves deep scratches on your film. I would recommend buying one at a place with a good return or exchange policy. Film can be purchased at Samy’s Camera, Calumet Photographic or online at B&H Photo and of course Robert Cavalli at Still Moving Pictures will make sure that if you choose to use black and white film, it will be processed perfectly and printed beautifully.

If I’ve piqued your interest, contact the studio to set up a private tutorial session. In addition to providing cameras for your use, as well as film and processing, we’ll divulge our closely guarded tricks and techniques guaranteed to give you great results. Put away your digital camera for the afternoon and try something a little different. I promise it will open you up to a whole new way of seeing the world.

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